About FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA (Cedar Books, New Delhi); By Nabina Das

"Fittingly for a poet, Nabina’s novel also has a strong lyrical core. 'Footprints in the Bajra' takes the homely image of the millet field as its central metaphor. ... But the novel is less a thriller about guerrilla action than a subtly colored character study of a fascinating group of individuals who intersect at various points in their lives ..." -- DEBRA CASTILLO, author, editor and distinguished professor (Cornell University, April 17, 2010).

Footprints in the Bajra is a serious book that moves at a smart uncontrived pace. It voices deep concerns about how and why the deprived and the marginalized in certain parts of our country join the Maoist ranks; how they adopt desperate and often terrible measures to wrench justice and to make their voices heard... a confident debut novel, a good read, which will leave you with plenty to mull over. -- PRITI AISOLA, author (See Paris for Me, Penguin-India, 2009) in DANSE MACABRE XXXIV.

In her debut novel, Nabina Das writes about an India where social divides stand taller than multistoried shopping malls. Footprints in the Bajra, inspired by what she saw while touring the interiors of Bihar as part of a travelling theatre group, inquires into why the Maoists have an influence over a large section of Indian society. Das talked to Uttara Choudhury in New York about her book, and its protagonist Muskaan -- DAILY NEWS AND ANALYSIS, Mumbai, March 28, 2010.


"The interspersion of references from both the West and India do not clash. Shakespeare and Lazarus as reference points are brought in with ease, as also Valmiki and Goddess Chhinnamasta, and nothing jars ... The language is poetic and creates visual images of beauty and ugliness side by side." -- ABHA IYENGAR, poet (Yearnings: Serene Woods, 2010) and fiction writer in MUSE INDIA, May-Jun 2010

Shwetank Dubey says Nabina Das ably recreates the milieu of Maoist-infested regions of India -- Nabina Das has chosen the first person account of narrating a story from the main characters of the novel, Nora the sheherwali (urban dweller), Muskaan the rebel, Suryakant Sahay the crafty clandestine planner and Avadhut the frontrunner of all the operations... the book deals with something that no urban resident is bound to know on his own — the life and times of people living in Maoist infested areas and why do they give in to the temptation provided by the Red Brigade. -- PIONEER newspaper, April 25, 2010.
'"If you misrepresent them, they'll abduct and kill you," says Muskaan, our hostess'... goes the first line with which Nabina Das settles everything about her novel -- style, subject and pace... Excellent plotline. Wonderful detail. A beautifully crafted book. -- Karunamay Sinha; THE STATESMAN, Sunday supplement "8th Day", May 16, 2010.

"This is bitter-sweet, if a rather longish tale of a modern-day Maoist revolution and the seeds of destruction and betrayal that lie embedded in it." -- Business World, May 17, 2010

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 15: “The Woods In Ithaca”

(Above, Hemlock Gorge, Ithaca) Here was the Day 15 prompt: "For today's prompt, I want you to take the title of a poem you especially like (by another poet) and change it. Then, with this new altered title, I want you to write a poem. An example would be to take William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow" and change it to "The Red Volkswagon." Or take Frank O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter" and change it to "Why I Am Not a Penguin." You get the idea, right? (Note: Your altered poem does NOT have to follow the same style as the original poet, though you can try if you wish.)" Read more at: April PAD Challenge: Day 15

“The Woods In Ithaca”

Kaya knew how to chart her trip, she traversed all beaten
Paths and journeyed beyond the boundary where the locals
Said strange sounds came from unknown brooks where
Shadows rubbed shoulders with each other, and merged
Into a gigantic darkness, unshaken, unseeing, still. Kaya
Followed a songbird’s trail, walked the path drawn by it
Sweeping rainbow wings across a forgotten territory, beyond
The four humps of a camel’s body. She went where she indeed
Heard the droning noise of the flat-bowl slowly grow quiet,
Wilt like mushrooms in the sun, fall as scattered debris
Of an old crashed plane. ‘Neath the town weather rooster she
Saw women with hair colored pink, sipping bitter coffee
Brewed in the square, men harrying with news that was old
Children doing the usual; nudge and fool each other, beg for
Money from elders. All of them tin dolls in a dumb charade.
Kaya knew and saw ‘em all, but heard less din, a calm over her.
The songbird flew on, led her to the camel’s eyes, recounted
All the tales it knew, of people, lives, pebble paths, lost loves.
Giant shadows cracked their roofing at the song and let rays
In; incoherent sounds from unknown brooks became a babble
Welcoming, happy. Clouds soared up inviting more light and
For the first time, Kaya saw all the humps together, a vision, in
Falling daylight: four domes of a citadel, quaint and outdated, a
Blurry green no Google Earth could capture on that maple brown.
Tree stumps truncated, eaten by oafish white ants roaming free
Post rains. And so much else rising from the forest lake, engulfing.
The songbird’s voice, her feathers of story layers, told of imagi-
Nations of centuries of sensations, a native relic unnoticed that
Winged past like whispers, like dreams, like sighs from catacombs
Dusty, dry riverbeds, long sandy stretches. Kaya’s was a trip to the
Moist mulch in dawn, the camel’s eyes resting on the glacial soil
With the knowledge that woods and skies and touches would be
Enriched, carved on its ancient forms of love and toil. On the bell
Towers, buildings, bars and homes. On its body, a form or a being
Called Kaya, land or life. The moody rooster meanwhile woke up
To announce a new day, eyes abounding in the light of a story just told.

Original Poem: "The Woods In New Jersey" by Robert Hass

Images from the Internet (Ithaca woods; Taughannock Falls)


priti aisola said...

There is so much here to feel and experience! Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Absolute delight for a nature lover. This is awesome my friend. winged like whispers, like dreams ..wow .. nishabd kar diya tumne meri jaan